The hours are ticking away until the release of the World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth expansion, which is due on Aug. 13, 2018, and Aug. 14, 2018, depending on your timezone and location. It is almost time to begin your journey and become a celebrated champion of the Horde or the Alliance, and we invite you to join us for one final pre-launch review as we count the minutes and seconds until release day.
It has, for better or worse, become a common practice among Warcraft veterans to return to the game at the beginning of each expansion, only to leave again after completing all the new quests, dungeons, and raids. And typical of many long-time WOW players, this reviewer will rejoin the game for Battle for Azeroth after a nine-month absence.
There are so many exciting games available online, and player retention has become a major issue for MMOs like WOW. As a result, it is not uncommon for the World of Warcraft player population to rise by several million players with each new expansion and then slowly drop again after a few weeks or months.
However, with an average monthly subscriber base of just over five million players in 2018, WOW has earned an industry-leading ten billion dollars in revenues since 2004.
Friends and guilds are the heart and soul of online gaming
As the clock grinds down ever so slowly, I am truly excited to rejoin the game on the Illidan server and see my friends in the Vengeance Guild again. I have played World of Warcraft since open beta in 2004, and have been a member of Vengeance for more than seven years.
The friends we make in the game and in a guild are arguably the best thing about World of Warcraft, and when I logged in the other day after nine months away from WOW, my clan leader, Bryah, warmly welcomed me back. Many gamers understand that it is possible to make valuable and lasting friendships with the people we meet in the virtual world, thus ushering in the future of human existence.
The story in World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth
World of Warcraft is justifiably beloved for the rich story and lore behind the game, and the story in Battle for Azeroth charts an interesting new direction. In the Legion expansion, the Horde and the Alliance managed to put aside their differences to some extent and defeat the Burning Legion, but now, they are back at each other’s throats again. Humans and their Alliance allies will once again go to war with Orcs and the Horde, but another plot twist adds depth to the story.
While the Horde and the Alliance attempt to annihilate each other, Azeroth is also suffering a grievous wound. As he faced his doom at the bitter end of a long and bloody struggle in the Legion expansion, the defeated Titan, Sargeras, stabbed Azeroth with his sword, causing massive damage to the planet. The wound from his sword is located in Silithus, where the injured planet is bleeding a mineral called Azerite.
In World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, players will begin with a quest for Magni Bronzebeard to retrieve a necklace called the Heart of Azeroth. Once a player is wearing the necklace, they will be able to gather Azerite and empower their Azerite Armor, which consists of helm, shoulders, and chest pieces. Empowering the Azertite armor will unlock a substantial number of new talents and increase the player’s abilities in combat.
The new level cap And the ‘stats squish’
World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth will also feature many changes to game systems and gameplay. Among the changes included in Battle for Azeroth, players will be able to increase their level cap. Another major change, which has been referred to as the “stats squish,” will actually help make understanding your character’s statistics a lot easier.
Before this expansion, player health was reading in the hundreds of thousands, and damage output was in the millions, This not only made stats difficult for players to read on the fly, but it put an additional workload on Blizzard’s servers. Now, all the numbers in the game have been reduced to much lower levels, which makes them easier for players to read in the heat of combat, and it makes them easier for Blizzard to manage in the back end.
Every WOW expansion has seen an increase in the level cap, which is a prime measure of a characters strength and progress. In World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, the level cap will increase from 110 to 120. As always, players will increase their level with XP, which can be earned from quests, combat, PVE, PVP, and professions. [We highly recommend Wowhead’s leveling guides.]
New player races and professions
As in past expansions, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth will herald the introduction of new playable races for the Horde and the Alliance. On the Alliance side, players will be able to unlock Dark Iron Dwarves, Lightforged Dranei, and Void Elves. Horde players will be able to unlock Highmountain Tauren, The Nightborne, and Zandalari Trolls.
Players will have to complete a quest chain to unlock one of the new races, and anyone who does not want to go to the trouble of leveling up a new character will be able to buy a level 110 character boost from Blizzard or use the character boost token that comes with a pre-order copy of the expansion.
Professions will also be getting a major overhaul in World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. The new profession system will divide professions into skill tiers, which are based on the previous expansions. Your level for a specific skill tier will be based on your current level for that profession.
Game director Ion Hazzikostas explained how the new profession skill tiers will work in an interview with Forbes.
“It’s dividing up expansion crafting. If you are 800 skill in a profession, you’ll be 100 skill in each expansion’s crafting. If you are 650 skill, you’ll be 100 in [the first few expansions], 50 out of 100 for Warlords of Draenor, and no Legion, because that’s where you were in those terms.”
[Thanks to Wowhead for the list that follows just below. Be sure to check out their amazing profession guide.]
- Classic goes up to 300
- Outland, Northrend, Cataclysm, Pandaria goes up to 75
- Draenor and Legion goes up to 100
- Kul Tiras and Zandalar goes up to 150
It should also be noted that the First Aid profession is being removed from the game. According to our good friends at Wowhead, “With the removal of First Aid, players will have to relearn old First Aid recipes now categorized as Tailoring or Alchemy.”
New dungeons, new raids, and new changes to PVP
PVP is also getting some major changes in World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. Blizzard hopes that open world PVP, which has not prospered in WOW in recent years, will make a big comeback in the expansion with a new feature called War Mode.
The new feature will allow you to activate PVP for your character on any type of server, allowing you to attack other players who have activated War Mode. Players with War Mode active will have PVP specific quests available to earn additional rewards, they will gain additional XP, and they will also have a tree of PVP specific talents. [Be sure to check out Wowhead’s War Mode guide.]
Dungeons have always been an important part of WOW, and Battle for Azeroth offer 10 new dungeons to conquer, with tons of new bosses to defeat and loot to earn. Players will start the expansion with access to four of the new dungeons, and all 10 will become available to players once they reach the 120 level cap.
There will also be new raids in the expansion, but Blizzard is playing their cards close to the vest with the details. The first raid, Uldir, Halls of Control, will be available on Sep. 4, 2018, and a second raid that features Queen Azshara as the final boss will be available at a later date.
Uldir will feature eight Titan constructs who have been corrupted by the Old Gods as bosses. The names of the bosses are Taloc, Zek’voz, MOTHER, Vectis, Zul, Fetid Devourer, Mythrax, and G’huun, and you can find a very helpful guide to their abilities and loot on Wowhead.
Counting the seconds before the Battle for Azeroth begins
There is so much to offer in the expansion, and we are chomping at the bit to get started. The journey to level 120 and beyond is loaded with exciting new content, and the WOW community has high hopes for the future of World of Warcraft.
To bring our readers a full evaluation of the expansion, we will present a hands-on review shortly after the release of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. We invite you to join us for all the details and learn our release day grade for the latest addition to one of online gaming’s most popular franchises.
We are counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds until it is time to play World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth – 9 hours, 10 minutes, 30 seconds, 9 hours, 10 minutes, 29 seconds, 9 hours, 10 minutes, 28 seconds. We can’t wait!
This is Ghodzilla, over and out. FOR THE HORDE!